What's wrong in Rahul Gandhi calling Modi a 'dalal'?

Isn’t it strange the BJP is so ultra-sensitive to political banter, but impassive to the hatred and hate-mongering by its own leaders?

 |  4-minute read |   08-10-2016
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First of all, the outrage among the grievance dalals is that the word dalal or dalali is “disgusting, shameful, repugnant...” and is an insult to the PM as it accuses him of “brokering on the blood of fallen soldiers”.

Now, since when is dalal or dalali a bad word? We have the most famous street in the heart of Mumbai’s business centre, called Dalal Street, also known as India’s Wall Street. Dalal is also the term for a seriously legitimate business for brokerage, negotiation, contracting, and the dalal is an agent for parties who wish to trade.

Famous names are attached to the Dalal tag, that range from India’s late, but famous Aunty of Vegetarian cooking Tarla Dalal, to stockbrokers and media columnists.

So, even as Rahul Gandhi was slammed and hammered for using the word “dalali” by hand-wringing television anchors, commentators and BJP leaders; has the din subsided on why the BJP must not politicize the success of the Indian Army’s surgical strikes along the LoC, on the Pakistan border?

For more than a week, as the chorus of adulation and praise reached a crescendo by senior Cabinet ministers and party leaders on the Modi government’s “assertiveness, willpower, bravery, toughness” there were voices of concern that PM Modi and the BJP were skimming off rich political benefits and gains.

Modi may have belatedly “admonished” his ministerial colleagues and party leaders to refrain from “chest beating” but it has not stopped his party from putting up giant posters, banners and hoardings in many states, especially in poll-bound states like crucial Uttar Pradesh.

The lurid captions liken Modi to Ram and Nawaz Sharif to Ravana. Is this not “dalali” or brokering on the blood of soldiers who laid down their lives during the attacks?

And why are the BJP dalals only felicitating Modi and other party leaders, and not the armed forces? Where are those giant hoardings lauding the bravery and martyrdom of the soldiers, which BJP spokespersons and other sundry apologists never fail to raise when uncomfortable political questions are asked to Modi and his ministers?

The Modi brigade must get the patent for the thriving industry of grievance and historical wrongs, which is why they are now wailing about Sonia Gandhi’s “Maut ka Sudagar” remark made at an election rally nine years ago. The Congress president had called Modi, then chief minister of Gujarat, a “merchant of death” and it had set off a tirade of rant and condemnation, even inviting commentary and analysis that the Congress lost the election because of the accusation.

But Gandhi made the remark in the backdrop of the murderous Gujarat riots where Modi was at the helm of affairs, and criminal investigations are still today mired in controversy and accusations of fraud and double dealing. Funny, the controversial remark has been argued as the single reason to polarise voting communities, to give the BJP a stupendous victory at the election.

It’s also a bit rich that BJP spokespersons and party leaders are accusing the Congress leadership of moral bankruptcy and lowly politics, when their own supporters have indulged in threatening and violent attacks on those who disagree with them.  The BJP’s campaigns like banning beef, gau rakshaks have resulted in public lynching, beatings and murder. The Ram Mandir agitation has left a trail of riots, arson, attacks, from Ayodhya to Gandhinagar.

Is calling Modi a “dalali” an act of violence? Isn’t it strange the BJP is so ultra-sensitive to political banter but is impassive to the hatred and hate mongering by its own leaders, MPs, that is consuming us today?

As for the self-righteous PC brigade (politically correct), of pious and virtuous finger-pointing journos, commentators, sniffy do-gooders, have been clucking how Rahul Gandhi should have been told he’s addressing a public rally and not twitter trolls, as "dalali" is the prerogative of trolls not netas!

Others have admonished him for ridiculing the PM, calling Modi names, and have scoffed at the Congress leader  for taking politics to a “new low.” Really, what’s wrong with a cleverly crafted political barb? The term “dalali” is not communal, sexist, or casteist, in fact, those who are objecting to “dalali” is caste-phobic and stereotyping a community!

Anyway, Rahul Gandhi was indeed addressing a public rally, which is raucous, strident, hoarse – where you are trashing and slamming your political opponent. To all those who object to the word “dalali”, what’s wrong in attacking Modi bluntly and openly? 

This is not a seminar room where political analysis and inquiry is conducted in hushed tones: it’s a political arena, where the mood is quarrelsome, disruptive and aggressive. Public criticism must not be controlled to protect political sensibilities, and there can be no ifs and buts in a full-throttle political battle. The irony is that the BJP uses political insults to its full advantage, but the Congress hits and then runs shy. It’s time they learned to face the music.


Vrinda Gopinath Vrinda Gopinath @vrinda_gopinath

The writer is editor, altgaze.com.

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